Contextualizing immigrant adolescents’ high school outcomes by their school environments and friend groups.

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Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health and the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study in combination with conducting hierarchical linear modeling analyses, this dissertation looks at the effects of school environments and friend groups on immigrant adolescents’ level of school attachment and GPA in high school. Past research suggests that immigrant adolescents’ may be influenced by their surroundings to a greater degree than their peers when evaluating educational adjustment, well-being, and success. Using these theoretical motivations, my broad research question evaluates how certain school structures and friend groups influence immigrant adolescents’ school attachment and GPA. While many of my original hypotheses need to be modified in light of my quantitative findings, there are several valuable findings from each research chapter. From Chapter 3, I find that while academic tracking programs’ manifest function is to increase educational achievements for individual students, there are also instances in which academic programs negatively impact school attachment and GPA for immigrant and minority adolescent populations. From Chapter 4, I find that adolescents do not benefit as greatly from having friendships with a higher mean GPA on school attachment and GPA if they are immigrant adolescents compared to non-immigrant adolescents. In Chapter 5, I evaluate second-generation adolescents’ attendance at Hispanic and black minority schools and how the addition of having friends who dropped out of high school magnifies a negative effect on their GPA. Based on these findings, it is the hope that school administrations consider how they can foster environments where students have the greatest likelihood of academic success, when taking into account school-level variables and individual-level adolescent variables at their school sites.

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Education, Outcomes, School attachment, GPA, Immigrant, Adolescents, School-level variables, Friend groups

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